Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

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Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world. Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension,...
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Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the bestselling author of The Black Swan and one of the foremost thinkers of our time, reveals how to thrive in an uncertain world.
 
Just as human bones get stronger when subjected to stress and tension, and rumors or riots intensify when someone tries to repress them, many things in life benefit from stress, disorder, volatility, and turmoil. What Taleb has identified and calls “antifragile” is that category of things that not only gain from chaos but need it in order to survive and flourish.  
 
In The Black Swan, Taleb showed us that highly improbable and unpredictable events underlie almost everything about our world. In Antifragile, Taleb stands uncertainty on its head, making it desirable, even necessary, and proposes that things be built in an antifragile manner. The antifragile is beyond the resilient or robust. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better. 
 
Furthermore, the antifragile is immune to prediction errors and protected from adverse events. Why is the city-state better than the nation-state, why is debt bad for you, and why is what we call “efficient” not efficient at all? Why do government responses and social policies protect the strong and hurt the weak? Why should you write your resignation letter before even starting on the job? How did the sinking of the Titanic save lives? The book spans innovation by trial and error, life decisions, politics, urban planning, war, personal finance, economic systems, and medicine. And throughout, in addition to the street wisdom of Fat Tony of Brooklyn, the voices and recipes of ancient wisdom, from Roman, Greek, Semitic, and medieval sources, are loud and clear.
 
Antifragile is a blueprint for living in a Black Swan world.
 
Erudite, witty, and iconoclastic, Taleb’s message is revolutionary: The antifragile, and only the antifragile, will make it.

Praise for Antifragile
 
“Ambitious and thought-provoking . . . highly entertaining.”The Economist
 
“A bold book explaining how and why we should embrace uncertainty, randomness, and error . . . It may just change our lives.”Newsweek
 
“Revelatory . . . [Taleb] pulls the reader along with the logic of a Socrates.”Chicago Tribune
 
“Startling . . . richly crammed with insights, stories, fine phrases and intriguing asides . . . I will have to read it again. And again.”—Matt Ridley, The Wall Street Journal
 
“Trenchant and persuasive . . . Taleb’s insatiable polymathic curiosity knows no bounds. . . . You finish the book feeling braver and uplifted.”New Statesman
 
“Antifragility isn’t just sound economic and political doctrine. It’s also the key to a good life.”Fortune
 
“At once thought-provoking and brilliant.”—Los Angeles Times


From the Hardcover edition.
 

Product Details

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2012: Fragile things break under stress. But, according to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, there's an entire class of other things that don't simply resist stress but actually grow, strengthen, or otherwise gain from unforeseen and otherwise unwelcome stimuli. Taleb sees degrees of antifragility everywhere, from fasting, mythology, and urban planning to economic, technological, cultural, and biological systems. The wealth of radical thinking in this book astounds; the glossary alone offered more thought-provoking ideas than any other nonfiction book I read this year. That said, Antifragile is far from flawless. As comical as Taleb's rough handling of his favorite targets can be--academics, economists, and tourists, to name a few--his argumentative style boasts gaping holes, non sequiturs aplenty, and at times an almost willfully repugnant tone. Some readers will find Taleb's brashness off-putting; others will embrace it as a charismatic component of the ideas themselves. Either way, no one will finish this book unchanged. --Jason Kirk
 

From Booklist

Judging by his anecdotes, Taleb interacts with the economic masters of the universe as he jets from New York to London or attends business-politics confabs in Davos, Switzerland. Anything but awed by them, Taleb regards them as charlatans, not as credible experts. Such skepticism toward elites, which imbued Taleb’s The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007), continues in this work, which grapples with a concept Taleb coins as “antifragile.” Not readily reducible to a definition (Taleb takes the whole book to develop the idea), suffice to say here that antifragile’s opposites—economic, political, or medical systems that are vulnerable to sudden collapse—tend to be managed by highly educated people who think they know how systems work. But they don’t, avers Taleb. Their confidence in control is illusory; their actions harm rather than help. In contrast, Taleb views decentralized systems—the entrepreneurial business rather than the bureaucratized corporation, the local rather than the central government—as more adaptable to systemic stresses. Emphatic in his style and convictions, Taleb grabs readers given to musing how the world works. --Gilbert Taylor
 
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product What's this? )
I begin for readers who have not read anything else by this author, especially those who are familiar with his ideas only second-hand. His second book, Fooled by Randomness, is by far the easiest introduction to his ideas. It is relatively short and illustrates his ideas in dramatic and amusing stories. For people with technical backgrounds, the first book, Dynamic Hedging, makes the points in a much more restricted domain (managing risk of financial options) which allows more precision. The Bed of Procrustes is striking and insightful, but as it is a series of loosely connected aphorisms, the reader has to sort out the links for herself.

Taleb's third and most commercially successful book, The Black Swan, and this one (which may become his most successful), lay out his ideas in more breadth and depth. The three in the first paragraph are relatively non-controversial. They are critical mainly of people who are safe to ridicule, those who are blind to the uncertainty in the universe in fields that are ruled by randomness, such as finance. The Black Swan and Antifragile attack--in the most intemperate language--people, ideas and professions accustomed to reflexive worship.Read more ›

 

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